Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City – K. J. Parker


Do you like fantasy fiction? Yes? Then buy this book. You will love it.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City is the story of a great city and the less than great man who becomes responsible for saving it from the besieging forces camped outside. But this is no normal siege, and this is no normal tale. It’s bursting with humor (mostly dark) and invention, and changes of plot direction that can momentarily lave you dazzled. It’s great entertainment, with a fascinating main character anti-hero, and an onslaught of supporting characters that add to the developing tension, and the need to keep on turning the page.

Primarily, the narrative is the thing. Parker is a top class storyteller, and the story is one deserving of his skills. It helps that – despite the fantasy setting – what is on show is a panorama of all too realistic human behavior; there’s good, bad, and indifferent. Fate intervenes. Things do not always work out. But it’s always enthralling.

Just great.

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ConsimWorld 2019

I had a great time playing games at ConsimWorld.

I spent a few days, guided by Tom Holliday, playtesting Greatest Day: Utah Beach, a game in MMP’s Grand Tactical Series to be published at some point in the future. I was responsible for the 101st Airborne Division. The landings were chaotic, with too many stragglers. The 101st did manage to create enough of a cordon, growing in strength as the scattered troops found their way to friendly staging posts. When I left, the seaborne invaders had reached the 101st cordon, and were trying to stage a wider breakout. Continue reading

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Cool spell

Last week, I traveled to the USA for ConsimWorld. Shortly after I arrived in Tempe, Arizona, one of the locals asked me if I was enjoying the cool spell of weather the city was enjoying. Of course I was. Who wouldn’t like temperatures of 95 degrees (Fahrenheit – 35 degrees Celsius) when the alternative was 105 degrees, or higher? (At one point it reached 11 degrees.)

It’s just as well I have been here often enough that I am sort of used to the ferocious heat. However, it’s one thing putting up with it for a week, and quite another to endure a whole summer. Still, I was grateful for the cool spell.

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Power of the Dog Series – Don Winslow

There are three books in the series:

  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Cartel
  • The Border

The central characters are Art Keller, a US government official waging the war on drugs, and Adan Barrera, the major player in the Mexican drug underworld. Over the course of the three books, each of these characters is developed beyond the archetypal goodie and baddie, as the continual struggle to stem the drug tide is artlessly implemented by the governmental forces, helped – in the loosest sense of the word – by Keller’s somewhat unconventional approach. Continue reading

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Off Armageddon Reef – David Weber

This is the first of a successful space opera series that is built around the idea of the last survivors of humanity hiding out (from their alien foe) in a faraway planet. To minimize the risks of their being found, the rulers have imposed an anti-technology religion. So far, so good. Unfortunately, whatever interest I had in the scenario was killed stone dead by leaden dialog and too many flourishes of overwriting. The poor characterization didn’t help. Neither did the palpable lack of tension.

In a word: avoid.

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Total English?

In short, no.

The following appeared on a Ra’anana building fairly recently. (It’s still there as at the time of posting.)

Expect correct English?

This rubbish arises because it’s a direct word for word translation from the Hebrew way you would say expect more. The lack of a capital letter after the full stop is, so to speak, the icing on the cake.

In a country brimming with native English speakers, this is inexcusable from – presumably – a professional company; whether Total-E or their marketing people, they should have done better.

As far as I can tell, it’s some kind of gym/fitness venture. For their sake, I hope their business is more fit for purpose than their marketing.

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